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08 May 2006

An Austrian Grape Concordance 2

In Part 1, I introduced you to common Austrian monikers used for many of the international grape varietals that comprise a significant portion of Austria's quality wine.


The Natives
Some of Austria's native grapes are not seen in wine exported outside the country.  To sample the likes of Roter Veltliner, Rotgipfler, Zierfandler and Blauer Wildbacher, you'll likely have to journey to Austrian turf in order to taste wine made from these varietals.  Lucky for us, however, much of Austria's best export wines also happen to be made from native grapes.

White Grapes
Grüner Veltliner - also known as Weißgipfler.  This is, without a doubt, the most well known grape to come out of Austria.  It produces wines ranging from simple to stunning.

Neuburger - Still somewhat rare in the North American market.  Neuburger's calling card is its nutty flavor.  This grape produces fuller-bodied wine, often in an off-dry style.  Neuburger's history is murky.  Some have described it as a hybrid (Pinot Blanc x Sylvaner), while others maintain it simply appeared, all Moses-like, along the shores of the Danube.  The latest information appears to support the theory that this grape is indeed a hybrid.

Red Grapes
St. Laurent - St. L is to Austrian red wine, what G. Veltliner is to Austria's whites (i.e. it's the shiznit).  While St. Laurent may not have Veltliner name recognition, it produces wines that are equally as distinctive and enjoyable.  St. L is named for Saint Laurent, the patron saint of vintners and grape growers.  Think of it as a spicy Pinot Noir - with similar potential for complexity and one-of-a-kind-ness.

Zweigelt - also known as Rotburger (in Germany) and Zweigeltrebe.  This grape producers silky smooth wine with cherry flavors.  Zweigelt is actually a hybrid from the crossing of St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch (AKA Lemburger).  While perhaps, not given to complexity like St. Laurent, Zweigelt wines are often described as approachable - which isn't a bad quality at all.

Join me Next Monday (15 May) as I start exploring Austria's quiver of native & international grape varietals.

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